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Background: Use of telephone, video and e-consultations is increasing. These can make consultations more transactional. This study aimed to develop a complex intervention to address patients’ concerns more comprehensively in general practice and test the feasibility of this in a cluster-randomised framework. The complex intervention used two technologies: a patient-completed pre-consultation form used at consultation opening and a doctor-provided summary report provided at consultation closure. This paper reports on the development and realist evaluation of the summary report. Methods: A person-based approach was used to develop the summary report. An electronic protocol was designed to automatically generate the report after GPs complete a clinical template in the patient record. This was tested with 45 patients in 3 rounds each, with iterative adjustments made based on feedback after each round. Subsequently, an intervention incorporating the pre-consultation form with the summary report was then tested in a cluster-randomised framework with 30 patients per practice in six practices: four randomised to intervention, and two to control. An embedded realist evaluation was carried out. The main feasibility study results are reported elsewhere. Results: Intervention Development: 15 patients were recruited per practice. Eight patients and six GPs were interviewed and 18 changes made. The summary report improved substantially; GPs and patients in the final practice were more satisfied with the report than the first practice. Realist evaluation: The summary was most useful for consultations when safety-netting advice was important or with multiple complex follow-up steps in patients who have difficulty remembering or communicating. It generated greater clarity on the follow-up and greater patient empowerment and reassurance. Conclusions: The person-based approach was successful. The summary report creates clarity, empowerment and reassurance in certain consultations and patients. As it takes a few minutes per patient, GPs prefer to select patients who will benefit most.

Original publication




Journal article


NIHR Open Research


National Institute for Health Research

Publication Date





20 - 20